Saturday, 28 August 2010
The headlong rush towards insanity
In the past 46 years, the human race has consumed as many goods and services as all previous generations combined. Unsustainable consumption is quickly becoming the root cause of our planet’s most pressing problems, resulting in global deforestation, depletion of our oceans, loss of biodiversity, and increased pollution from a growing reliance on fossil fuels. Earth Communications Office (http://oneearth.org).
The above quote is but one example of how mankind has plundered his inheritance that is planet earth. Dwelling upon the likely consequences of our actions, has lead me to wonder if there is anything at all, we can do to stop this headlong rush to cement, build, deforest, mine, pollute, eradicate, bomb and generally cause untold havoc, until we have conquered, raped, plundered and stripped every last inch of earth bare, in what we laughingly call 'progress.'
In battles, armies will often use a tactic called a Pincer Movement, to bring a battle to a swift conclusion. According to Wikipedia, the Pincer Movement is defined as when, 'The flanks of the opponent are attacked simultaneously in a pinching motion after the opponent has advanced towards the centre of an army which is responding by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks, in order to surround it. At the same time, a second layer of pincers attacks on the more extreme flanks, so as to prevent any attempts to reinforce the target unit.
You know, this is how I am now beginning to view the wholesale destruction of our earth, it's been attacked on two fronts, in a classic pincher movement, by two different forces which are interacting as one, and gradually squashing the life out of the planet. These twin forces are over population and rampant capitalism
There are too many of us on the earth, and the majority either want to continue the lifestyle they have become accustomed to, or those not yet aboard, want to jump onto the gravy train of consumerism. There has been a fierce debate amongst Ecologists and Greens in the past few years, as to the merits or otherwise of bringing populations under control; forced sterilisations, such as is practiced in China may be very effective in lowering numbers, but the costs of such measures often come at too high a price in terms of the misery and heartache suffered by those forced to undergo such procedures.
But of course with more people, more dwellings are needed to house them, more food is needed to feed them and they need access to basic health and sanitary facilities. Not to mention fuel they require to keep warm. These are just the basic conditions people need to exist. This is even before we come to the beast of multi dimensional materialistic monster. All of which have to be created out of the ever dwindling resources the earth provides
The other twin in this Pincer movement I talked about is our old friend Capitalism. Capitalism feeds upon large populations, for without large numbers of people continuously buying into the capitalist ‘dream,’ developers, manufacturers, bankers and speculators would be out of work! Capitalism depends on the mantra of ‘growth,’ to keep it afloat. Growth is the be all and end of this world, for without constant growth there can be no more expansion of the beasts tentacles, the money will run out, so less offices, factories or roads get built, mines cannot be developed, and forests can’t be cut down. All of which depend on the constant erosion of nature; the factories need places to be built, the roads need to be carved out of somewhere. More farms are needed to feed more people. And people, flora and fauna need to be dislodged and removed, so the developers, miners, manufacturers et al, can move in.
Do we really need more roads and bridges, offices and factories? Can we sustain them all, and more of the industrial economy that goes with it? No. of course we can't, but if we stop developing, then capitals very existence is called into question. And that would be bad news indeed for all of those involved within the machine who profit from continued growth.
As Charles Eisenstein so elegantly puts it, “The continuation of capitalism as we know it depends on an infinite supply of these new industries, which essentially must convert infinite new realms of social, natural, cultural, and spiritual capital into money. The problem is, these resources are finite, and the closer they come to exhaustion, the more painful their extraction becomes. Therefore, contemporaneous with the financial crisis we have an ecological crisis and a health crisis. They are intimately interlinked. We cannot convert much more of the earth into money, or much more of our health into money, before the basis of life itself is threatened.”
I just can’t see how things could be different; the human psyche gravitates towards accumulation by attachment and desire. Attachment and desire can, if understood, be overcome of course, but this needs a profound shift of consciousness,and not many of us are truly prepared for such an undertaking. Every time I delve into the media, I read about or view, the steady march of this Pincer movement; a new mine opened here, a forest hacked down there, a new road built over there, a spanking new industrial complex up there. Or another species placed on the endangered list. And despite all of the efforts of those who understand the implications of the path we are all hurtling along. Desire, greed and unintelligence will, I sadly sense, win the day.